Lakers Management Explains Why They Didn’t Hire Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson has come out and said he that he felt cheated and misled by the team, a sentiment shared by many Laker fans. Today, GM Mitch Kupchak faced the media, and explained the process that led to the surprising hire of head coach Mike D’Antoni. Per the team website: “Q: On what took place with Phil Jackson: Kupchak: ‘Much has been made of the perceived agreement to wait until Monday. The actual way it took place after a basketball discussion was, ‘Where are we now?,’ and Phil said he needed more time. I asked him how much more time, and he said he’d get back to (us) on Monday. I said, ‘Phil, I have a job to do and I’m going to have to continue my search and interview candidates.’ He nodded that he understood. Maybe herein lies a little bit of the misunderstanding. As it was reported, we never offered a job, and he never indicated he would coach the team. It was a basketball discussion revolving around a lot of questions. So we did what I indicated we would do, which is when I left Phil’s house, I began discussions with Mike D’Antoni on Saturday afternoon, and we also set up an interview with another candidate for Sunday. All day Sunday, Jim and I and Dr. Buss (from another location) continued to discuss what the (best move) would be. After multiple phone calls with Mike D’Antoni on Sunday afternoon, at 5 or 6 o’clock on Sunday, we made the decision that Mike D’Antoni was going to be the next coach of the Lakers. It revolved almost completely around the personnel that we have on the team and the style of play we saw going forward for the team. Of course we took into consideration a structured offense, which is what we went through with Mike Brown. We looked at our personnel – without going into great detail, some of our guys I don’t think would be successful in the triangle, (and) some of our new players might take a long time to learn the triangle. So we decided Mike would (be the coach).’ Q: On calling Phil Jackson at midnight to relay the decision: Kupchak: ‘Our feeling was, the worst thing we can do – since we already made our decision – was to wait until Monday. I could (have) gotten a call from Phil on Monday morning saying he thought about it, and he would like to be the coach and let’s start negotiations. To say at the point that we’d decided to go in a different direction, our feeling was that would be even worse than what we did on Sunday night. Our feeling was there was no agreement to wait for (Jackson’s) response on Monday. He told us that’s when he would get back to us. I could see where he might interpret that as ‘You guys would wait for me,’ but I thought when I said I had to interview other candidates it was clear that we had a job to do. I could have waited until Monday morning to call Phil – I didn’t look forward to calling somebody at midnight to tell him he’s not going to get a job he might or might not accept, but the only other thing I could do was wait until Monday morning and that would have been worse, because (the news had gotten out).’ […] Q: On what was discussed in the meeting with Jackson: Kupchak: ‘There was no discussion of salary in the meeting. I don’t know why there would be. The job wasn’t offered, and he didn’t say he wanted the job. We touched briefly on personnel input, which he would hope that he’d have more input. And we talked about the rigors of travel in the NBA. But there was no demands or in depth discussion about missing games. Missing games because of travel was not discussed.’ […] Had Phil Jackson expressed definitive interest to take the job during the Saturday meeting, Kupchak said he and Jim Buss would have ‘immediately’ huddled with Dr. Buss, and ‘decided what we were going to do.’ When that didn’t happen, Kupchak called two other candidates, starting with Mike D’Antoni, and became more and more convinced as they spoke to D’Antoni further. Kupchak said that ultimately, they had to ‘come to grips with’ saying no to Phil Jackson, which was not easy, especially since there was such a groundswell of support for the Hall of Famer, even extending to chants during games.”